The staff proposal assessment is one of the inputs into the Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) proposal review process, and is reviewed by the FDC in preparation for and during the in-person deliberations each round. The purpose of the staff proposal assessment is to offer the FDC an overview of the expert opinions of the FDC staff team about this annual plan grant proposal, and includes (1) An overview about all applications in the current round; (2) A narrative assessment; (3) An assessment that ranks each applicant according to specific criteria in program design, organizational effectiveness, and budgeting.
Overview for all assessments
High quality of proposals and annual plans
Proposals in this round have significantly improved in quality. Proposals are accompanied by detailed strategic plans, and some strategic plans include ways to monitor long term progress over time. With a few exceptions, proposals have been more focused and organized into 2-3 programs with common objectives. Most proposals have been more clearly focused on program work and have included less of an emphasis on operational details. Organizations have included logic models and other clear explanations (e.g. needs assessments and community surveys) to demonstrate why their work is needed and how proposed activities are likely to lead to results.
We appreciate the significant effort that has gone into these proposals, and also believe that the high quality of these proposals will aid the Funds Dissemination Committee in their understanding of each organization’s planned work. Furthermore, quality proposals with clear objectives will provide a strong foundation for each organization’s evaluation of their results in the coming year.
Better targets and effective storytelling
The inclusion of global metrics targets for each proposal has enabled a better understanding of the entire portfolio of Annual Plan Grant proposals in Round 1, and should help show the impact of Annual Plan Grant organizations as a group in a few key areas.
We know global metrics don’t tell the entire story of an organization’s impact. Organizations have included program-specific metrics that measure results that are specific to their work. We see organizations thinking about ways to understand the quality of the content contributed through their work, as well as ways the content is used by contributors (e.g. use rates for media), or readers (e.g. pageviews). Organizations are doing important work that is not yet reflected in global metrics, such as work in the areas of policy advocacy, building the MediaWiki community, and attempts to address community health. Organizations are striving to find good ways to show their achievements in these areas, and to link these achievements to online impact. We appreciate the different ways organizations are working to show the impact of their programs through metrics that are specific to their contexts, and we know this work will continue to be important moving forward.
Beyond the metrics, organizations are improving in their abilities to effectively tell stories and document lessons learned, both in terms of organizational learning and program learning. We have seen significant improvement from last year, with several organizations becoming systematic in the way they document and share their stories. We appreciate where organizations have highlighted important aspects of their work through effective storytelling.
This year, several organizations are using the lens of community health to structure their work with online contributors. Wikimedia Nederland is doing innovative work around training Arbitration Committee members and administrators. Amical Wikimedia, Wikimedia Nederland, and Wikimedia Israel are addressing online conflicts in their communities. We encourage them to share what they learn about this developing approach with the broader movement and Wikimedia Foundation, as we all stand to gain from these experiences.
Beyond this work, we have seen many organizations implement community surveys to gain a better understanding of the communities they work with and their specific characteristics and challenges. We see movement organizations as clear leaders in this area, since most have direct relationships with their communities and are well-equipped to address challenges that are specific to the geographies and languages they work with. We appreciate that learning how to address challenges in specific Wikimedia communities may be used to improve our understanding of community health in the broader Wikimedia context, which is one reason we see this work as so important.
Many organizations are looking beyond Wikipedia and Commons communities, to focus on other projects. Wikimedia Sverige and Wikimedia CH are both focusing on Wikidata this year, and Wikimedia Israel and Wikimedia Serbia are continuing their strong work on Wiktionary. A number of organizations are focusing on other projects like Wikisource and Wikivoyage, which may offer significant opportunities for improving content and increasing participation and reach.
Policy and legal work
Organizations are focusing on policy areas like copyright reform in a consistent and coordinated way. Wikimedia organizations already have a track record of participating in policy discussions. Some organizations, like Wikimedia Sverige, are seen by others as policy experts in their regions.
However, organizations do not yet have a strong track record with influencing policy, as it remains a nascent area of work. Plans focus on processes and mechanics of policy works rather than identifying specific and achievable policy goals.
Outside of policy work, organizations are also working on supporting contributors with legal expertise (e.g. Wikimedia CH and its work on copyright guidance for users on Commons).
In general, we see this policy work as well-aligned with Wikimedia Foundation’s strategies in these areas. We encourage organizations to continue to articulate how these policy goals benefit Wikimedia projects. We acknowledge that it is challenging to measure the outcomes of this work, and encourage further discussion.
Organizations are continuing to request funding for technical work, with a focus on technology tools. In general, we have seen an improvement in plans for technology work and have seen these projects proposed on a smaller scale. Some organizations already have expertise in these areas, while others are working to build more expertise. Beyond Wikimedia Deutschland’s software development plans, Wikimedia Sverige is working with its community to address bug reporting, and Wikimedia Sverige and Wikimedia CH are building relevant tools to expand the use of Wikipedia (text-to-speech, Kiwix and Wikimini). Wikimedia UK is also continuing work on VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) and QRpedia. Wikimedia Israel is working on ways to support technical contributors to MediaWiki, and Wikimedia Ukraine is planning to support the development of gadgets relevant to its community.
Coordination among organizations
Organizations are continuing to coordinate with one another to improve movement practices and accomplish shared goals. Wikimedia Nederland, Wikimedia Österreich, Wikimedia Ukraine, and Amical stand out as high performers in documenting learning and improving movement practices, and Wikimedia Israel, Wikimedia Argentina, and Wikimedia Sverige, are making important contributions too.
Wikimedia Argentina and Wikimedia Ukraine are taking leadership roles in regional collaborations like Iberocoop and the CEE regional group. Organizations are collaborating across languages (e.g. Amical and Wikimedia Sverige), as well as within languages (e.g. DACH). A number of organizations are supporting international program groups and convenings, including Wikimedia Ukraine (Wiki Loves Earth), Wikimedia Nederland (GLAM conference), Wikimedia Österreich (Wikisource conference), Wikimedia Israel (Hackathon). Organizations in Europe are coordinating around EU advocacy issues.
Beyond technology tools, organizations like Wikimedia Österreich, Wikimedia Nederland, Wikimedia Sverige and Wikimedia Israel are working on tools for advocacy work and education work that can benefit the broader movement. Organizations are also engaging actively with the Community Engagement team at Wikimedia Foundation to coordinate with Wikimedia Foundation on movement learning.
Quality of budgets
Budgets in this round varied in quality. Some organizations are still struggling to include an appropriate amount of detail in their budget. We believe more conversation is necessary to agree on the level of detail needed in these budgets, and to establish shared norms for good practices in budgeting and financial reporting. WMF plans to provide more in-depth guidance for budgets in the future.
Wikimedia Sverige and Wikimedia Nederland have performed consistently in the area of making quality budgets and offering transparent financial reporting, and we’ve also seen significant improvement from smaller organizations like Amical and Wikimedia Serbia. Several organizations included staff time and costs for each program. This is a good practice, which can help organizations demonstrate how staff are contributing to different program areas, and tracking this closely will also help organizations understand how their resources are being allocated.
In some cases, however, we received budgets that included line large line items without sufficient detail for understanding the costs. This means that we could not draw strong conclusions about how budgets were weighted toward impact in many cases.
Finally, we noticed large amounts allocated to travel expenses, printing and promotional materials, and it is sometimes difficult to link these significant expenses to commensurate impact. Where expenses are significant, we would like to see clearer links to impact.
Pilot: one restricted grant request
The FDC makes general support grants to support programmatic and operational costs. For the first time, the FDC has received a request for a restricted grant, from Wikimedia Deutschland. We are piloting this approach to specifically support Wikimedia Deutschland’s software development focus. In a restricted grant, funds are allocated to specific line items in an organization’s budget.
|Proposed change (as a +/- percentage)
FDC or PEG funding
Overview of strengths and concerns
This section summarizes the strengths and concerns identified by staff, which are explained in the detailed narrative section of this assessment.
- Focus on gender
- Focus on building MediaWiki community of developers
- Focus on projects beyond Wikipedia
- Targets low with respect to funding requested and number of staff
- Past results not commensurate with past funding
Staff proposal assessment narrative
This section takes an in-depth look at this organization's past performance and current plans.
Context and effectiveness
This section takes a close look at this organization's context. Here are some questions we will consider:
How does this organization's environment (including its local context and its community) enable this plan to succeed and have impact?
- Wikimedia Israel is a volunteer-driven, community-focused organization that is working with a growing community of active editors and a small but dedicated community of volunteers. Increasing volunteer engagement has been a challenge for Wikimedia Israel, but they are actively strategizing in this area.
- Beyond opportunities for expansion of Hebrew Wikipedia, Wikimedia Israel has opportunities to focus on Wiktionary, Wikisource, and MediaWiki.
- Wikimedia Israel may have some opportunities to work with other language communities (e.g. Arabic), but they have not yet been able to pursue this work.
- Wikimedia Israel has good opportunities for high profile partnerships, such as the Ministry of Education.
Will this organization's past performance with program implementation enable this plan to succeed?
- Past results in terms of online outcomes have not been commensurate with funding. Wikimedia Israel is emphasizing quality of media and articles contributed through their programs, but has not yet found a way to clearly articulate the quality of this work.
- Wikimedia Israel does not appear to be on track to exceed 2014 achievements in 2015. Total participants, for instance, was ~3,000 in 2014, compared with 1,100 by mid-2015. Images uploaded reached 6,000 in 2014, whereas mid-2015 has seen ~1,000 uploaded. Finally, articles new/improved reached 1,600 in 2014, compared to ~500 by mid-2014. However, some activities may have been planned in the later half of 2015
Will this organization's overall effectiveness enable this plan to succeed?
- Wikimedia Israel has a stable and committed staff and board.
- Wikimedia Israel increased their staff preemptively in 2014 before securing funding for this staff increase, which is not a good practice. We are concerned that the staffing increase, and increase in program activity, did not lead to a commensurate increase in online outcomes. At the same time, we are concerned that the increase in program activity proposed may be difficult for staff to manage (e.g. Academic program).
- Wikimedia Israel is a well-run organization that is greatly improving in their ability to track and document progress and results. Wikimedia Israel contributes to improving movement practices, hosting the Hackathon in 2016 and collaborating proactively with other movement groups.
- Wikimedia Israel is outsourcing fundraising, and we hope this approach leads to improved results in this area, which will be important to helping Wikimedia Israel reduce their reliance on Annual Plan Grant funding.
Strategy and programs
This section takes a close look at this organization's programs. Here are some questions we will consider:
Does this organization have a high-quality strategic plan in place, and are programs well-aligned with this strategic plan?
- Wikimedia Israel now has a strategic plan in place. Wikimedia Israel gathered community input (through a survey) to influence the priorities outlined in that plan. Wikimedia Israel’s goals focusing on Wikimedia communities, collaborations, and building infrastructure to support openly-licensed content are strongly aligned with movement strategic priorities, while other strategic goals are less clearly aligned.
- Wikimedia Israel’s community highlighted a desire to focus on non-Wikipedia projects, which is an approach Wikimedia Israel is pursuing in their current plan, and a good strategic opportunity.
- Wikimedia Israel’s Content & Education program is particularly well-aligned with movement strategic priorities.
Do proposed programs have specific, measurable, time-bound objectives with clear targets, and are program activities and results logically linked? Are there specific programs with a high potential for impact?
- Wikimedia Israel’s proposal shows significant improvement in their capacity to track and measure programs, and includes baselines and clear targets for most programs.
- Wikimedia Israel is thinking through approaches for articulating the quality of media and articles contributed through their work. If successful, learning in this area could benefit the wider movement.
- We also see high potential in Wikimedia Israel’s MediaWiki work, which could provide a good model to other groups that want to work more with MediaWiki contributors.
- Wikimedia Israel’s education program includes a strong focus on tools and instructional materials which could have benefits on an international scale.
Is this plan and budget focused on the programs with the highest potential for online impact?
- Wikimedia Israel is requesting an 8% increase from $195,649 to $211,911 in their grant this year to fund a significant 12% increase in their overall budget. This is on top of significant funding increases in 2013 (549,000 ILS), 2014 (709,000 ILS), and 2015 (770,000 ILS).
- Beyond the significant growth in budget and Annual Plan Grant funding, the total amount of this grant request of $211,911 is concerning. While activities have increased significantly in these years, we have not seen corresponding increases in online outcomes.
- Wikimedia Israel increased their staff significantly during 2014, and financed this staffing change with an increase to their 2015 grant. They are currently decreasing staff slightly from 3.8 FTE to 3.65 FTE.
Summary of expert opinions (if applicable)
This section will summarize any expert opinions or other research.
Staff proposal assessment framework
This framework assesses annual plan grant proposals across the three dimensions of (1) Program design, (2) Organizational effectiveness, and (3) Budgeting. To complete the assessment, we identify whether each criterion is a strength or a concern:
- Major strength
- Neither a strength nor a concern
- Major concern
|Wikimedia Israel has a quality strategic plan that includes a SWOT analysis. Its programs are strongly aligned with this strategy and with movement priorities, especially its work focused on quality content. Rationale for strategic alignment is clearly explained.
P2. Potential for impact at scale
|WMIL is planning programs that build on its previous work, and is likely to achieve the targets set. Some programs, like their MediaWiki volunteer programs, their trainings on conflict resolution, their focus on professor retention in the education program, and their work on tools to support the education program can scale beyond the national level and benefit the Wikimedia movement as a whole. At the same time, we are concerned that while participation related targets are stronger, content-focused targets do not correspond to the large amount of funding requested.
P3. Objectives and evaluation methods
|WMIL has improved its evaluation methods by including a baseline for 2015 as well a target for 2016 in it proposal. Targets included in this proposal are both outputs and outcomes (e.g. 50% of participants will be active in 6 months or 200/550 images will be integrated into articles). WMIL is thinking about how to measure quality to reflect the value of its work, and has included detailed logic models for its programs.
|WMIL specifically addressing gender in its work, and this work is improving since last year. For 2016 they will provide support to Wiki women and organize photographing of women, as well as arrange and run a writing contest about women. WMIL noted work with the Arabic speaking group began in mid-2015 and has not yet made significant progress.
O1. Past results
|WMIL has improved its content results in this current year and expanded on those for targets in 2016. At the same time, WMIL has not shown past results commensurate to the amount of funding requested, or commensurate to the size of its staff (3.8 FTE in current year).
|WMIL is a learning organization that has greatly improved its ability to effectively document and share its work. There is evidence in this proposal that WMIL is applying learning to improve its programs, for example by piloting programs before launching them at scale.
O3. Improving movement practices
|WMIL is planning to host the Hackathon in 2016 on behalf of the movement.
O4. Community engagement
|WMIL works closely with its small community of core volunteers, although they acknowledge serious challenges around recruiting more volunteers to participate in their work. WMIL is addressing and prioritizing this community work, and involves the community in its planning processes.
|WMIL has acknowledged challengs around involving enough volunteers in its work. At the same time, it is clear that WMIL is a well-managed and effective organization. As WMIL expands activities in academia, we are concerned that staff may be overextended.
B1. Past budgeting and spending
|WMIL expanded its staff in 2014 significantly. The organization plans to underspend its 2015 grant and reallocate those costs to the Hackathon in 2016. Past increases in program activity and budget have not to led to corresponding results.
B2. Budget is focused on impact
|Proposed impact is not commensurate with funding. Staff costs are high relative to proposed impact.
Staff proposal assessment framework
- Major strength. This is something the organization does very well, and this is a strong indicator of future success.
- Strength. This is something that the organization does well, and this could indicate future success.
- Neither a strength nor a concern. This is something that does not indicate future success or make funding the application a risk, or aspects of this criterion conflict.
- Concern. This is something that the organization does not do well, and this could make funding the application a risk.
- Major concern. This is an area where the organization is not strong, and this could make funding the application a serious risk.
The organization has a quality strategic plan in place, programs are aligned with this strategy, and this strategy is aligned with online impact.
P2. Potential for impact at scale
Programs could lead to significant online impact at scale, and corresponding to the amount of funds requested.
P3. Evaluation methods
Programs include a plan for measuring results and ensuring learning, and employ effective evaluation tools and systems. Programs include SMART objectives, targets, and logic models.
Programs will expand the participation in and reach of the Wikimedia movement, especially in parts of the world or among groups that are not currently well-served.
O1. Past results
This organization has had success with similar programs or approaches in the past, and has effectively measured and documented the results of its past work.
This organization is addressing risks and challenges effectively, is learning from and documenting its experiences, and is applying learning to improve its programs.
O4. Improving movement practices
This organization effectively shares learning about its work with the broader movement and beyond, and helps others in the movement achieve more impact.
O5. Community engagement
This organization effectively engages communities and volunteers in the planning and implementation of its work.
This organization has the resources and ability (for example, leadership, expertise, staff, experience managing funds) to do the plan proposed.
B1. Past budgeting and spending
This organization has a history of budgeting realistically and managing funds effectively in the past.
B2. Budget is focused on programmatic impact
Based on past performance and current plans, funds are allocated to programs and activities with corresponding potential for programmatic impact.